The yacht builders had the audacity to call it a double sized cabin. The bed was the size and shape of a coffin. The best way in to get in was to go feet first and wriggle down. There was quite a bit of headroom, perhaps enough to lean on one elbow and read a book, but the feet were quite a tight fit.
It was rather claustrophobic, with the ceiling, barely an arm's length away and damp with condensation. Once the light was off it was very dark. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. My husband was wedged in next to me gently snoring
We were at the stern of the boat, the blunt end. Above us were the steering wheel and an outdoor seating area. To the left of our cabin was a small toilet. It worked by vigorously pumping a lever before flushing. All that stood between us and the sea, on the other side, was a thin wall of fibreglass.
It was the May long weekend and the skipper, a sailing friend, has signed us on as crew. The venue was a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean along the west coast of Scotland peppered with islands. Ferries chugged from one port to another churning up the water and leaving oily trails.
The skipper mentioned in passing that the yacht had been in an accident. A hole beneath the water line had been repaired.
It was the first night. We had berthed at a pontoon in our first port of call. Having got there quite late in the evening, we were unlucky enough not to be next to the pontoon, but tied up to another boat, which was tied up to another boat, which was tied up to another boat, which was tied up to the pontoon. I think we were four boats out from the pontoon. The whole etiquette of clambering over your neighbour's boats to get to the pontoon remains a mystery.
That night as I lay in my coffin in the intense dark, I heard a distinct dripping sound. There was a plip-plop staccato and the sound of water swishing and swirling around. I couldn't say for sure where it was coming from but I began to suspect that the hole beneath the water line had not been repaired properly.
People were clambering about on deck, talking in urgent whispers, and there was a pumping sound. Lying in my dark coffin I just knew that the hole had re-appeared and they were trying to pump out the water to stop us sinking.
I woke my husband to tell him that I thought we were sinking, that the hole had not been fixed, that water was slowly seeping in. He agreed that the dripping sounded rather loud, but promptly rolled over and resumed his snoring on a slightly higher frequency.
Scared seems to be too feeble a word to describe how I felt. I have an active imagination with no off switch. I saw the whole scenario played out in ghoulish detail ending with me being buried at sea.
I could take it no longer and finally wriggled out of bed to find out for sure just what was going on.
Opening the cabin door, expecting a flood of water to gush in, I was mildly surprised to find the skipper and the first mate stretched out on their beds, either side of the galley, fast asleep. If we had been sinking, they would not have been sleeping. Apparently another yacht had pulled up alongside of us during the night. The people on deck had been clambering over us to tie up their yacht. The dripping water and ominous swirling sounds were from water passing between the yachts.
I felt rather foolish about my fears. Looking at the skipper and his friend asleep, I felt peace wash over me like a wave. I returned to the coffin, climbed in feet first and promptly fell asleep.
God clearly spoke to me through that experience. All it took to restore my peace and soothe my fears that night was one look at the skipper. Seeing him asleep I knew that there was nothing wrong. God told me that whenever I feel inclined to panic I should look at Him. If he is panicking, I have His permission to join in. He is the Prince of Peace and never panics.
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